INTRODUCTION:

Fourth grade is the culminating year of Cascadia’s program.  For fifth grade, Cascadia’s graduates move on to Overlake, Forest Ridge, Eastside Preparatory School, Lakeside and other private middle/high schools, and public schools.

One word that describes Cascadia’s fourth grade students is “confident.”  When a child grows through the years at Cascadia, the accumulation of all prior educational experiences is remarkable and evident in the fourth grade. In the fourth grade, we see the students “blossom” into diligent, creative, responsible, respectful, and well-mannered individuals.  The students continue to sharpen their abilities as they work, learn, and apply their growing capabilities at a fifth grade level.

CORE SUBJECTS:

The fourth grade students eagerly take on the challenges of a fifth grade math curriculum.  They enthusiastically strive to complete 100-problem timed tests in two minutes or less, and succeed.  Students are excited to dive into demanding work in multiplying and dividing fractions, as well as multiplying and dividing decimals.   The broad list of topics in fifth grade math include ratios, percentages, probability, measurement, and geometry.  All math topics are incorporated into problem solving activities.  The fourth grade students are now independent in solving “Peak Problems,” with a little teacher review for being on the right track.  This advanced problem solving is more complex.   (For example:  Ms. Duran was discussing the impact of El Nino…At this time yesterday, it was 20 degrees colder than it is today.  Do you remember the record-setting high just two weeks ago, when the temperature was twice as high as it was yesterday? That was just a week before it snowed, when the mercury had plunged to one third of the ‘high,’ and then fell another 3 degrees resulting in a temperature of 5 degrees below freezing on the Fahrenheit scale.  Freezing is 32 degrees F.  What was the temperature on the day Ms. Duran discussed  El Nino.)  Students view this as a fun challenge.

The fourth grade students are polishing their language arts, composition, and reading comprehension skills.  Students grow to express their own style or voice in creative writing.  Techniques learned in third grade, are more artfully applied. Attention is to catchy introductions, thoughtful conclusions, and building stories from event to event leading to a strong climax.  Students use dialogue and vivid details to develop tone, humor, and suspense. The students’ skills in creative writing are applied to enrich informative and persuasive writing.  Student compositions are usually four to seven page word documents.  The fourth grade year ends with a special project: “My Vision of the Future.”  Each student researches a preferred profession and interviews a professional. They compose a hypothetic biography of their life at age 30, build models of their future homes, and present power points to the fourth grade parents.

Within the broad spectrum of reading and reading comprehension, students apply their abilities to reflect on their thinking as they focus on inferential skills:  What are important questions to ask? How would I summarize this story?  How would I characterize the people? How do the characters’actions influence the story line?  In addition to reading in an anthology, students read specially selected novels. Group reading aloud in these novels, enable the students to experience rich descriptive vocabulary and discuss more complex themes: What are the students’ personal connections to the time, place, and characters of the book? What is the value of understanding social issues and human relations in the book?  One of our favorite novels is  A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.

SOCIAL STUDIES AND SCIENCES:

In the afternoon, Social Studies and Sciences are the focus.  Subjects are at the fourth and fifth grade level.  As previously noted the third and fourth grade students have the class together.  The fourth grade students have an important leadership and partnership role with the third grade students.  Fourth grade students lend maturity in discussing important concepts and give guidance in focusing on key information, and creating joint projects.  Fourth grade students are quite computer skilled and provide a helpful hand in creating complex word documents and producing power point presentations.  Fourth grade students are proud to be positive role models in group project work.  Within a two year cycle, students focus on United States geography, United States history, life science, earth science, physical science, and space.

ENRICHING SUBJECTS:

The fourth grade students have engaged in enriching activities through the years. In performing arts, they have had four prior years singing, two years of hip hop, and as third graders were introduced to creating and performing a musical play. As fourth grade students, they again are leaders and mentors. The fourth grade students are confident in their performing abilities and support the third grade students as they learn acting parts, choreography, and songs for the musical play which is performed in the All-School-Concert.  In French class, the students’ long-term growth in French, from common nouns in prekindergarten through complex grammar skills in the fourth grade, give the students a strong sense of accomplishment.   A fun project in the fourth grade is to utilize their skills to translate, discuss, and write about a French short story.  In physical education, the fourth grade students are instructed by their coach in demanding soccer skills practice.  Students continue to challenge themselves in Monart art instruction to build their drawing and perceptual visual skills.